You’re looking up chords for your new favourite song.
It’s in an alternate tuning…
You give up and move on to something “less challenging”.
What if I told you that alternate tuning can make playing your favourite song EASIER to play?!
In fact, once you get started, you’ll get addicted to alternate tunings and you may start learning songs you never thought were possible to play.
By the end of this article, you will become inspired to drop your standard tuning rut, and start enjoying the many benefits of becoming familiar with alternate guitar tunings.
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The History of Standard Acoustic Guitar Tuning
Today’s standard guitar tuning involves adjusting your strings to E, A, D, G, B, and E, from lowest to highest pitch.
This is typically what you’re taught to use and what you become used to by default.
It’s the same tuning that’s used for the upright bass but an octave higher, but it adds two more strings.
It makes sense, right?
The basis of standard acoustic guitar tuning comes from its ancestor, the vihuela.
It’s a stringed instrument that was very popular during the 15th and 16th century in Spain, Portugal, and Italy.
The first known composer of music for this instrument was Luis de Milán, who created the tablature that was the basis for the guitar tabs we know today.
But, that doesn’t mean that we can’t move forward with our own tunings hundreds of years later, right?
It’s All About That Bass
Have you been playing songs that feel like the bottom fell out?
Well, that has a lot to do with the tuning you’re using.
D, in particular, cannot truly be played with all six strings and if you’re playing a song that keeps cycling right back to D, it can feel empty when you’re playing it with standard tuning.
With drop D tuning, when you play the D chord, you can play all six strings and play them proudly.
You’ll discover a freedom in all that bass.
Drop the D to Unlock Your Inner Rock Star
One of the most beloved alternate tunings is drop D.
This opens you up to the exciting world of power chords.
Metal uses a lot of power chords, so drop D tuning is nearly standard for many of those songs.
Yes, you can bridge your way from basic folk strummer to brazen rock hero just by adjusting the tuning of a few of your strings.
Changing your tuning over to DADGBE is a small adjustment to make that can give you so many possibilities.
In order to play many of your favourite rock songs, it’s essential.
Whether you’re tackling “Dear Prudence” by the Beatles or “Slither” by Velvet Revolver, without drop D tuning, your guitar just won’t deliver.
It allows you to play faster and access deep sounds that standard tuning can’t handle.
Break Out of the 2-4 Chord Trap
If you lived through the “folk scare”, you remember how all the most popular songs used the same exact four chords.
In fact, many of the most popular folk songs in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, used only two chords!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of “Tom Dooley” as much as the next guy, but there’s more to life.
By limiting yourself to standard tuning, you’re limiting yourself to very basic songs and while you could tell everyone you’re just trying to please the crowd, you will know the truth.
You’re too scared to break out into alternate tunings!
Your Favourite Chords Become EASIER to Play With Alternate Tuning
Why am I such a fan of alternate tunings and how did I become such a big advocate?
It wasn’t to impress people, it was to free up my left hand and make it easier for me to play the songs I loved.
The first time I experimented with alternate tunings, it was because I was playing a song using a C, A#, F progression.
With my finger on second string all the time, I was getting worn out.
I decided to change the tuning to make the C easier to play and it made a world of difference.
Not only did my hands feel more relaxed when I played, but my playing actually sounded better as a result.
Today, I use about 100 alternate tunings and a main reason that I do is to make it easier for me to play.
If you’re hitting the right notes, there’s no reason not to explore the world of alternate tunings on your own.
Unleash Your Songwriting Prowess
As I’ve mentioned before, my first experience with alternate tuning began because I wanted to find an easier way to play.
You can tune your guitar in any number of ways.
One of the reasons why Joni Mitchell is such a remarkable songwriter was that she broke out of the chord rut that many folk songwriters were in during the 60s and 70s.
She experimented heavily with alternate tunings that brought us sounds that stood out. It’s something she’s known for.
By focusing on tuning, Joni Mitchell was able to write so many brilliant songs that simply would not be possible within the framework of standard tuning.
You too can do the same.
Take Lessons to Learn Alternate Guitar Tunings
By opening yourself up to the world of alternate guitar tunings, you’re giving yourself an edge as a musician.
Learn that song that you’ve always wanted to learn.
Hit those low notes.
Expand your skill-set as a musician.
Become the songwriter that you know you’re capable of becoming.
Do it the easy way!
I’m a big believer that playing smarter is the secret to playing well.
Of course, learning different ways of doing things means that you may want some instruction on how to get started, right?
One of the best instructors I’ve found in regards to teaching different guitar tunings really well is Don Ross from JamPlay.com.
Watch this video where Don gives a nice overview of different guitar tunings.
Check Out This Course: Expressive Acoustic Guitar
This is a live guitar course offered over at JamPlay.com.
It was filmed in early 2017, and now the archived course is up for members to access.
JamPlay runs a lot of live guitar courses, where you can watch week by week.
If you miss a week, then you can just access the replay.
All their courses are archived, so you can access them any time you want.
I decided to highlight this course because it's right in-line with alternative tunings. In fact there are 4 weeks dedicated just to altered tunings.
If you're feeling like everything you play is starting to sound the same, I highly recommend you check out this course.
Learn more on the official page: